<p>WASHINGTON-CUNA is putting together an information package at the request of the Small Business Administration (SBA) on why religious-based credit unions should not be treated differently than other credit unions with regard to SBA-backed lending. SBA’s current policy is to only allow geographically-based credit unions to participate in government guaranteed lending because of the appearance of a greater potential for discrimination since credit unions do not serve the general public. CUNA Associate General Counsel Mary Dunn said the package should be completed by the middle of next week. She added that working with small business trade associations could be the next step in the process for expanded credit union participation in SBA lending. According to Darrell McKigney, president of the Small Business Survival Committee, the issue is one the group may have some interest in. “For our members, we think the more options that are out there, the better,” he said. While CUNA has ongoing relations with the Small Business Survival Committee (SBSC), according to CUNA Vice President of Communications and Media Outreach Pat Keefe, the group has not specifically contacted SBSC on the SBA issue. However, Chairman of CUNA’s Business/SEG Services Committee Gene Poitras, also president of the Credit Union Association of Oregon, said that the committee is considering working with small business trade groups in the future. What the committee will do is collect anecdotal evidence from small business owners about how credit unions have worked with them to extend credit. CUNA recently held a small business summit at Credit Union House and plans to hold a follow up session some time in August, Poitras said. He said the committee is currently working on an agenda for that meeting. The committee is also having further meetings with NCUA. NAFCU Senior Vice President and General Counsel Bill Donovan said that the group is keeping informal contact with some small business groups but declined to name which ones at this time. Poitras said several credit unions in Oregon are bumping up against the 12.25% member business lending cap. Especially credit unions in the more rural areas that are heavily into business lending, he explained. Additionally, he said Northwest Corporate Credit Union is helping develop programs to help credit unions do more business lending. This is an issue that small business trade groups have some interest in, though they are not involved right now. Small businesses are currently consumed by the estate tax abolition, Small Business Legislative Council Director of Legislative Affairs Andreas Kalisperis told Credit Union Times. A spokesperson from the National Federation of Independent Businesses said that the issue had not “bleeped onto our radar screen, yet.” [email protected]</p>

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